Green Thumb

When I was a kid I used to spend about a week at the beginning of summer and sometimes a week at the end of the summer with my grandparents.  To me going to stay with them felt like going back in time.  They lived in a small town (one tiny grocery store, 20 minutes to the nearest Walmart or McDonalds, no restaurants in town, etc) and had a small house that was on a couple acres of land.  They had a pony, some chickens, cats, and huge garden.  We used to pump water from a well to water the flowers everyday and hang laundry on a line.  Growing up in a slightly larger town these every chores were things I really loved about staying with them.

My grandparents used to spend time in their garden every morning and evening.  It was such a source of pride for them that as a kid I really didn't understand.  For the most part I didn't mind helping with parts of their garden that I enjoyed (picking berries/apples/grapes, shucking corn, snapping beans, and podding peas).  Other foods that I was not interested in (beets, peppers, onions, etc) were boring and I was never a fan of pulling weeds.  To me a garden just seemed like A LOT of work.  Not only did you have to weed, water, and harvest you had to do something with most of the food.  My grandmother canned everything you could think of.  She made her own spaghetti sauce and salsa, canned beans, beets, pickles, corn, pears, peaches, jams, etc. 

Last year was the first year that we lived in a house that I thought we would really stay in for a long time and my first opportunity to try a garden of my own.  Not wanting to overdue it my first year and getting started late I opted to have two tomato plants and two hills of cucumbers.  Besides a handful of cherry tomatoes I didn't get much from my tomato plants.  On the other hand I had more cucumbers than I knew what to do with.  I handed them out by the boxes full to anyone who would take them.  We ate them all summer and really enjoyed it.

This year we moved quickly into a small rental and I was quite bummed to think that we were going to have to take a year off from gardening.  My husband surprised me with a  raised garden.  We planted everything except the tomatoes from seed.  I set 4 tomato plants, two hills of zucchini, two hills of cucumbers, lettuce, onions, peppers, and string beans.  Needless to say it was too much for the size plot we had and the zucchini and tomatoes took over everything.  Here is a picture a couple months in.
Out of everything the zucchini, tomatoes, and lettuce fared the best.  We ate zucchini every possible way you can find on pintrest and loved it.  We also have several loaves of bread frozen for later.  My sister was staying with us for a weekend and was surprised when the kids went to the garden to get lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers for the salad to go with dinner.  It was fun to see the kids and my sister get a kick out of eating our own produce.  The kids loved gardening.  There is something so awesome about watching something grow from tiny seeds.  The pride that I never got as a kid I see so clearly now.

This was a harvest I had this weekend.  I pick my tomatoes early because (as tutored by a veteran gardener, my aunt) they were splitting down the top from the changes in weather and added rain.  They ripen in my window just fine and still taste amazing.  Next year my hope is to be in our new home and to really get the garden plot going that I want.  I also hope to have enough to try canning for the first time.  I have never been one for outdoors activities but I can honestly say that I am a gardener for life.

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